1 February 2011 The top United Nations relief official said today that Kenya’s humanitarian challenges, most of them the result of recurring drought and rapid urbanization, can be addressed through measures that ensure that communities have the capacity to adapt to changing weather patterns.
“Continued efforts to reduce the humanitarian impact of drought will ensure the sustainable recovery of livelihoods and restore local coping mechanisms to enable populations to deal with the recurring problem of drought,” said Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, on the first day of her three-day visit to Kenya and Somalia.
She said that food and water shortages resulting from inadequate rainfall can be avoided if more of Kenya’s arable land is used for irrigation farming, providing water to pastoral livestock herders, improving animal husbandry through disease control and better breeds, and making livestock marketing more efficient.
Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, noted that recurring drought forced communities to migrate to urban areas that lacked adequate amenities to support rising populations.
“These migrants end up in slums that have their own problems – congestion, limited service delivery, poor shelter, and lack of or limited water and sanitation facilities,” she said.
In Nairobi, Ms. Amos met with senior Government and UN officials, development partners and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
At a meeting with Esther Murugi, Kenya’s Minister for Special Programmes, Ms. Amos said she is encouraged by the country’s focus on investing in long-term programmes that are helping communities to deal with climate change-induced disasters.
She commended Kenya for its efforts to find long-term solutions to the problem of internal displacement, noting that the majority of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been resettled during the past two years.
Ms. Amos also met the heads of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), both of which are headquartered in Nairobi, to discuss UN support for the Kenyan Government on environmental issues, urbanization and emergency response and preparedness.
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